COVID-19 set to permanently change the way we shop

A survey by Blackhawk Network suggests visible signs of the pandemic may stop shoppers from returning to stores.

shopping with face mask

Almost half of shoppers have replaced shopping in retail stores with online shopping, suggesting that consumer habits may have changed for good.

Gift card company Blackhawk Network and market researcher firm Sapio Research conducted a survey on the issue in June 2020. The aim was to see how COVID-19 has changed the UK’s payment habits, with 2,007 regular online shoppers questioned.

Three in five people surveyed said the presence of masks and gloves would keep them from visiting a physical location, while almost half of consumers said they had replaced shopping in retail stores with online purchases.

The majority of 25- to 34-year-olds said they felt negatively when promotions or advertising referenced the coronavirus, and two-thirds of those interviewed (65%) said they wanted brands to continue promoting and advertising as they did before COVID-19.

More than half (51%) of shoppers over the age of 55 are now making more online purchases than before.

Blackhawk’s MD of EMEA, Matt Howe, said the key to success for retailers during the pandemic was to reassure and make customers feel safe while in store, “but not intimidated or scared about the safety measures in place”.

Howe said many of the changes in consumer habits caused by the pandemic will likely continue after, and may even be permanent. One of the most notable changes was payment method, due to the increased use of contactless in retail shops and the rise in online shopping.

Three quarters (75%) of respondents thought their shopping experience would probably be altered permanently due to COVID-19.

Almost 40% of those surveyed said they would describe themselves as a “deal seeker and bargain hunter”, and 31% said they wanted a discount on a product more than any other kind of special offer.

35% said they would be interested in receiving a digital gift card that could be used in multiple retailers or brands, but less than a quarter (22%) have actually received one.

A digital or physical gift card is used at least once a week by 28% of respondents, and 16% use PayPal once a week.

83% of employees liked being rewarded for hard work, and 82% agreed that receiving gifts or rewards from their employer makes them feel valued.

Almost half of employees (47%) would like to be rewarded with some kind of physical or digital gift card, while 20% would prefer being rewarded with time off.Just over a quarter of employees (27%) would be interested in receiving a digital gift card valid for multiple retailers or brands, and just 15% of employees have received one.

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